November’s National Novel Writing Month

How many of you have said you have a great American novel inside of you if only you could take the time to sit down and write it? Well soon you will have your chance to do just that. National Novel Writing Month (shortened to NaNoWriMo) happens every November, where it challenges folks to write a 50,000 word manuscript in only 30 days. For those of you counting, that’s 1,667 words per day.

The NaNoWriMo project began way back in 1999 with only a few participants, but has ballooned up to hundreds of thousands. Even professional writers have participated in the month-long event of marathon novel writing. In fact, well-known authors give pep talks to encourage writers on such topics as overcoming writer’s block and how to create compelling storylines and intriguing characters. All genres are welcome and none are preferred.

NaNoWriMo encourages novel writing through various motivational tactics. Writers (nicknamed WriMos) receive badges for hitting various milestones. For example, you get a badge just for starting and then another one for reaching 1,667 words on your first day. If you write for days in a row, you can also get a badge. And then there are larger milestones like thirty thousand words, forty thousand words, and of course the grand prize, fifty thousand words.

NaNoWriMo encourages its participants to declare their writing style. There are “planners”, those that heavily plan out the structure of their novel before they begin writing and stick to it. Then there are “pantsers”, those that write by the seat of their pants, allowing the story to form organically as they write with no real plan. And then there is the “plantser”, a hybrid of planner and pantser. Plantsers may come up with an outline, but aren’t afraid to alter the story organically as they write.

One of the true benefits of NaNoWriMo is the community that has been built around it. When you sign up, you can join regional groups of fellow WriMos in your area as well as find writing buddies from all over the country and even the world. In years past, local groups would host write-insgatherings in which multiple writers would get together to pound the keys and write out their word counts for the day.